“Straight Pride Parade”: When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression
The absurdity of the "straight pride parade" that white supremacists are organizing in Boston serves to remind us all of the real meaning of Pride month.

Boston may be gearing up to host the first-ever “Straight Pride Parade” this summer after a group of men allegedly filed a discrimination complaint against the city. City officials have confirmed the group contacted them, but say that they haven’t yet received the permits required to host a parade.

The official “straight pride” website currently list four team members: “President” John Hugo, “Vice President” Mark Sahady, “Gay Ambassador” Chris Bartley, and Anthony Tamagna, their “media relations” person. For a short period of time, the site also listed Brad Pitt as their “mascot” (I’m absolutely serious), an honor we can only assume was quickly noted by the acclaimed actor’s legal team, as it is no longer there. Pitt has now been replaced by Milo Yiannopoulos, who they allege is the new Parade Grand Marshal.

News of the pending event was met with confusion…well, more like anger…by LGBTQIA+ people across the nation. The organizers countered complaints by expressing their commitment to creating spaces for people of “all identities to embrace the vibrancy of the straight community.” Which leads us to wonder, are the straights okay?

As it turns out, to the surprise of no one, the organizers of the “Straight Pride Parade” are far from your average group of aggrieved white men. Sahady, who has been the most outspoken online about the event, is a right-wing provocateur who travels the country participating in Proud Boys-style events that are billed as “rallies” but are, in reality fronts, intended to provoke street violence directed at left-wing activists.

Sahady also oversees the Massachusetts chapter of a neo-fascist organization called “Resist Marxism,” which has been the driving force behind a number of events in the New England area. In 2018, the alt-right group helped organize the “Providence Freedom Rally” which featured white nationalist organizations like American Guard. Sahady has not only publicly spouted homophobic rhetoric, denying the very existence of transgender people, but was also captured on video attacking transgender individuals at rallies.

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the fallacy of the “straight pride parade” Sahady and his extremist cohorts are supposedly staging lies in the assertion that heterosexuals are somehow disenfranchised in our society. As baffling as that sounds, the sentiment is indicative of a wider genuine misunderstanding of the historical and political implications that ‘Pride’ month holds. While it certainly remains a celebration of LGBTQIA+ culture and individuality, Pride is also a commemoration of the sacrifice that queer people have made to attain the rights they’ve won so far.

To be fair, Pride as a cultural phenomenon has substantially deviated since the days of the Stonewall riots 50 years ago. Most of the “gay-themed” parades across the country now are an onslaught of rainbow capitalism. Corporations exploit Pride by slapping rainbows on their logos and parading their profitable “allyship” once a year for the crowds. Our current version of Pride™ looks vastly different than it did during the 1970s, ’80s, and even the early ’90s. Still, despite the transformation in recent years, the historical significance remains.

Many outside of the LGBTQIA+ community are unfamiliar with the events that unfolded at the Stonewall Inn in the early hours of June 28, 1969. After New York City police raided the gay club, still located in Greenwich Village, queer patrons became fed up with the never-ending homophobic profiling and targeted arrests. They rose up against law enforcement, barricading cops inside, and setting the bar ablaze.

At the time of the riots, the police were being paid off by the mafia (which ran many of the bars) to stay away from specific gay establishments until the bars were ready to shut down for the night. Upon closing, police would then proceed to raid and arrest queer individuals. Cops specifically targeted Black and brown trans and gender non-conforming people—frequently arresting those they deemed as not wearing “gender appropriate” clothing.

The Stonewall rebellion was an act of defiance from the queer community and became a symbol of the united power that LGBTQIA+ people collectively held. The days and years that followed the riots reshaped the political landscape of our modern queer civil rights movements. Pride month was created as an acknowledgment of queer resistance and sent the message that those existing on the fringes of society refused to be erased.

Which brings us back to the current efforts to host a “straight pride” parade in Boston. What political significance does heterosexuality hold when it has always been viewed as the “default” in society? The absurdity of the situation lies in the insinuation that when queer people gain access to equal rights, we suddenly take up the mantle of our oppressors. Or as it’s often put, “When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

The reality of the matter is that LGBTQIA+ people remain far from “equal” and continue to exist in a country that denies them basic human rights. There are 26 states in the U.S. with no explicit prohibitions for discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state law. LGBTQIA+ employees are offered no workplace protections. Queer communities battle disproportionate rates of violence, especially amongst Black and brown trans women. Despite coming so far since Stonewall, there is still so much work left to be done.

On a personal level, I of course feel no animosity towards straight people—or their united desire to sing along to “Wonderwall” at karaoke bars. However, LGBTQIA+ communities continue to face vicious attacks from the Trump administration and remain marginalized by the institutionalized powers of the state. Our fight is far from over, despite what outsiders may believe. We will continue to rise up, challenge, and change the political landscape until the homophobic and transphobic barriers of society are dismantled once and for all.


CONTRIBUTOR

Michelle Zacarias
Michelle Zacarias

Michelle Zacarias is a staff writer at People's World. A graduate of the Univ. of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Zacarias has invested her time in raising awareness on issues of social justice and equality. She has written and conducted research in several parts of the world; most recently Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she presented on disability awareness at the U.S. Consulate. Michelle self identifies as multi-marginalized: as a Latina, a woman of color and a person with disabilities. She considers her experiences a privilege, one that she hopes to use as a platform for spreading socio-political consciousness. In her spare time Michelle enjoys drinking pricey wines and watching old school zombie flicks.  

Comments

comments

MOST POPULAR